AT every recent full council meeting, Conservative councillor Jonny Bucknell has been jeered from the Labour side as he stands up at the start, when members are asked to make clear their interests, and declares that he is a private landlord.
He sit backs down, looking quite distressed at the heckles, which relate to the case before Highbury Corner Magistrates Court earlier this year which saw him plead guilty to being in breach of an order to fix up and improve a home he was letting out. Cllr Bucknell told of his ‘deep regret’, but he ended up with a £20,000 fine and his face in the nationals. Those who have seen the conditions of the house say he shouldn’t be let off lightly; others say he should be given some understanding due to the private difficulties he was experiencing, which he disclosed to the court.
There is a difference of opinion in the Labour ranks about how far this should now be used for political against Cllr Bucknell too; some councillors jeer along at the start of the council meeting, others pointedly don’t get involved. But the Lib Dems have clearly made their minds up, and in their latest election leaflet fire both barrels at the Belsize councillor, using his case and conviction to make clear who they think should be trusted in housing.
Barnet and Camden candidate Zack Polanski tells recipients of the leaflet drop: “We need councillors who fight for a fair deal for tenants, not councillors who neglect the properties that local people live in.”
The gloves are clearly off but getting personal about Cllr Bucknell’s conviction is an interesting, some might say brave line of attack for the Lib Dems here, however. After all, the party once held all three seats in the same Belsize ward, and when it did, one of their own councillors also found themselves heading to a courtroom dock – on that occasion for a £10k+ benefits fraud case.